Mouth-watering meals minus the calories
There's a chill in the air and it's dark by 5pm; the thought of putting on your running shoes and eating a salad for dinner probably leaves you feeling colder than the freezing drizzle that soaked you on your way to work.
It's hard to think about that bikini bod when summer is fading into a hazy memory, but sadly keeping up the hard work throughout winter is the only way to ensure you'll be beach-ready all year long.
So, what can you eat to fill you up and keep you warm, without over indulging?
Soup is a great alternative to salad at this time of year, it's warming, it's good for you and, even better, it's really cheap to make.
BBC GoodFood's Thai pumpkin soup is delicious and each serving has only 192 calories. Use take-away containers to portion it up. Freeze the leftovers and have it for lunch later in the week.
Ingredients (serves 6)
- 1½ kg pumpkin or squash, peeled and roughly chopped
- 4 tsp sunflower oil
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 1 lemongrass, bashed a little
- 3-4 tbsp Thai red curry paste
- 400ml can coconut milk
- 850ml vegetable stock
- Lime juice and sugar, for seasoning
- 1 red chilli, sliced, to serve (optional)
- Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Toss the pumpkin or squash in a roasting tin with half the oil and seasoning, then roast for 30 minutes until golden and tender.
- Meanwhile, put the remaining oil in a pan with the onion, ginger and lemongrass. Gently cook for 8-10 minutes until softened. Stir in the curry paste for 1 min, followed by the roasted pumpkin, all but 3 tbsp of the coconut milk and the stock. Bring to a simmer, cook for 5 minutes then fish out the lemongrass. Cool for a few minutes, then whizz until smooth with a hand blender, or in a large blender in batches. Return to the pan to heat through, seasoning with salt, pepper, lime juice and sugar if it needs it. Serve drizzled with the remaining coconut milk and scattered with chilli.
So, we're sure you know how to make a jacket potato yourself, but if you're anything like us, you're probably getting bored of tuna mayo!
Swap your regular white potato for a sweet potato. Trust us, opening your lunch box to find the beautiful, bright orange veg inside will brighten even the darkest winter day.
BBC GoodFood suggests serving with mushrooms. Yum!
Ingredients (serves 2)
- 2 sweet potatoes, about 300g each
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 200g chestnut mushrooms, halved
- 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary or ½ tsp dried
- 2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan
- Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Prick the potatoes several times with a fork, then microwave on high for 8-10 minutes, turning once, until tender. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a non-stick pan, add the mushrooms and rosemary and cook over a fairly high heat, stirring, until the mushrooms are tender and lightly coloured. Season to taste.
- Put the potatoes in the oven and roast for 15 minutes until the skins start to crisp. Split open and spoon over the mushrooms. Sprinkle with Parmesan to serve.
Couscous often gets a bad rep but that's generally due to under-seasoning or adding too much water when preparing it.
It's worth learning how to prepare couscous properly as it makes the perfect addition to a warm salad this winter. This dish from The Guardian has plenty of heat and tonnes of flavour.
Ingredients (serves 6)
- 350g couscous
- 4 chicken breasts, skin off, cut roughly into big chunks
- 2 tsp dried chilli
- A few good pinches of cinnamon
- 8 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1½ tbsp curry powder
- 8 tbsp olive oil
- 2 handfuls of raisins or sultanas
- 40g butter
- A small handful of pine nuts
- A small handful of mint leaves, roughly chopped
- A big handful of coriander, roughly chopped
- Preheat the oven to 220C/gas 7. Mix up the chilli, cinnamon, garlic, curry powder, a couple of pinches of salt and half the olive oil into a sloppy paste in a bowl and roll the chopped chicken pieces around in it. Leave it to marinate as you prepare the couscous
- Put the couscous in a big bowl with the sultanas and the rest of the oil. Stir until all the grains are well-oiled, pour in 400ml boiling water and cover with cling film. After 10 minutes, mix in the chicken with some seasoning and spread out in an ovenproof casserole dish about 35cm x 25cm.
- Pour on just under a mug of water, dot the butter on the top in about 8 knobs and put it in the oven for 25 minutes. The dish should have nice crunchy-looking couscous bits on top, so if necessary, brown under the grill for a few minutes extra
- Now divide into portions and scatter some pine nuts and chopped herbs on top
Will you be trying any of these recipes this winter? Do you have any of your own you'd like to share? Tweet @DiamondForGirls and share your recipes and foodie pics!